It is worth noting that the run on both the Olympic- and half-distance race does end in a quad-crushingly steep one-mile descent into the finisher's corral. You can make up huge chunks of time on this last mile, but beware: Your feet will certainly pay the price if you race without socks like I did.
The Race Expo
The expo features a wide assortment of vendors that you'll be more than happy to see after the TSA has confiscated all your CO2 cartridges.
Wildflower takes place in rural California (the nearest bike shop is about an hour away). This means you are pretty much stuck with whatever food you brought to the race. You can purchase food at the expo, but the choices are limited to crepes, burritos, hot dogs, pasta and stir fry. After four days of the Wildflower burrito I was ready for something a bit less carnival-like.
Also, the race expo did feature bands (like Woodstock of yore), but I never managed to hear one play. This is especially odd as I was always at the expo buying this or that while snacking on the fifth burrito of the weekend.
- They say it does, but the transition area never really seems to close. Therefore, no need to get up crazy early because the rousted college kids who man the transition gates will allow you to come and go at will.
- I stood in the "restricted" start area of the half-distance race and watched wave after wave leave without any issues. My suggestion is that you sleep in a bit and get to transition just before the start of your wave.
- If possible, get to Wildflower early. The race consists of numerous campgrounds located around the lake. You'll want to be as close to the expo and transition area as possible—unless you enjoy a long and very hilly bike/shuttle/walk to and from all the action and food.
- You better love camping—no matter if you rent an RV, as we did, or decide to tent it. This means that communal showers, stinky toilets, dust and dirt—the cold, starry, wide-open nights of spring are all yours for no additional fee.
- Yes, the rumor is true. On both the Olympic and 70.3 courses you will have the pleasure of a nude aid station. The naked bits just sort of jump out at you as you round a corner or crest a hill. One minute you're racing hard and the next you're hugging a topless coed with all sorts of wiggly and jiggly bits all loosey-goosey as God intended. It is something that is certainly unique in the sport of triathlon, and perhaps only possible in California at Wildflower while camping and racing in the middle of pretty much nowhere.
Overall Everyman Rating: 2 Brewskis (BYOB as they don't sell it in the park or within 10 miles of the race.)
Rating Scale (based on the amount of beer needed after a race):
- 4 Brewskis: So excruciatingly painful and lame you'll need a full year of recovery just to forget this race.
- 3 Brewskis: The best thing said and remembered about race is, "I finished."
- 2 Brewskis: Challenging race in a masochistic, I'd-do-it-again-given-enough-time-and-Ibuprofen sort of way.
- 1 Brewski: Good solid race that exceeds your expectations.
- No Brewski: A must-do annual event for both friends and family.
Roman Mica is a amateur Clydesdale triathlete who lives and races in Boulder, Colorado and has his own website; www.EverymanTri.com. He is also one of the founding members of www.raceAthlete.com. He has a book published, entitled My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running.